Usually, a walkoff home run leaves a team marinating in good feelings for at least an evening.
But after Jordon Hein homered in the 10th inning as the Peninsula Oilers defeated the Everett (Wash.) Merchants 4-2 on Tuesday in nonleague play at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, the Oilers had the second half of a doubleheader to play.
A 3-1 loss to Everett in the second game left the Oilers with continued offensive frustration, not good feelings.
After scoring six or more runs in seven of their first nine games and winning all but one of those contests, the Oilers have now scored six or more in just one of their last eight games.
The team is 10-6 overall and pending Tuesday's late games in the Alaska Baseball League, the Oilers were still in first place with a 7-4 record.
Oilers head coach John Stevens said his team is not taking a good approach at the plate.
"Until we start taking an approach at the plate that is conducive to getting better pitches to hit, we will continue to struggle," he said.
The Oilers got six hits in the first game and six more in the second game. That came after the Oilers got only three hits in a Sunday loss to the Merchants.
Stevens said hitting is all about working the pitcher until the batter gets a specific pitch that he can hit. That takes patience and confidence, and right now Stevens said his club is displaying neither.
"We have to have confidence that we can come out and get our pitch," he said. "We're first-ball swinging at balls out of the zone."
Stevens said the problem is that as the Oilers continue slumping, they get more impatient, which is the exact opposite of what they need to do.
"Too many guys are trying to be too big for the situation," he said. "I don't need a five-run home run. Those don't exist. I just need a base hit."
Stevens said the Oilers, who have lost five of six, will turn it around because they have solid pitching and because, as the first nine games showed, they have offensive talent that can't stay silent forever.
In the first game, Hein had just the kind of dramatic at-bat that can snap a team from a slump.
After showing up at 10 a.m. to clear what Hein said looked like a lake of water off of the tarp, the Oilers were supposed to play the Merchants in two seven-inning games starting at 1 p.m.
Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Oilers were able to send the game into extra innings when Alex Staehely scored Nigel Nootbaar on a sacrfice fly.
After a scoreless eighth inning, errors led to runs for both teams in the ninth. Staehely was unable to secure a two-out pop-up in the top of the inning, allowing Keegan Acker to give the Merchants a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Oilers had runners on first and second with two outs when Jeff Yamaguchi hit a grounder to third. Ryan Sells bobbled the ball and rushed to third to try and record the force and end the game, but the speedy Hein was ruled safe.
Everett head coach Harold Pyatte said after the game that he thought Hein was out by a foot.
With the count 0-2, Frank Martinez was hit by a pitch to tie the game.
In the bottom of the 10th, Nootbaar was at first with two outs when the left-handed Hein came to the plate. With a 1-0 count, he got a fastball low and inside and stroked it 15 feet to the left of the right-field foul screen. It was his first home run ever with a wood bat.
"It was really important because we were on a four-game slide," said Hein, who is listed at 5-foot-7, 155 pounds. "We haven't been swinging the bats as well as we can.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't carry it into the second game."
Everett starter Brooks Roy, who will be a senior at Liberty University, cut short the Oilers momentum in the second game.
Roy said his changeup and slider were not working, so he worked his fastball around the zone and kept the Oilers off-balance with a big, sweeping curveball.
Roy held the Oilers hitless for the first three innings, but as the game wore on, even his curveball began to desert him.
"When I throw my curveball a lot, I get a cut on my finger," Roy said. "Blood gets on the ball, so it slips out of my hand sometimes."
Down 3-0 entering the sixth, the Oilers mounted their only sustained rally of the game. Nate Ring doubled to start the inning, then moved to third with one out on an infield single by Jake Alvarez.
Trey Richardson singled to score Ring, and the Oilers loaded the bases with two outs, but Staehely ended the inning by popping out.
Pyatte said his Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters — Sells, Aaron Gates and Bo Folkinga — had a great 10-day stretch in Alaska, during which the Merchants went 5-4.
Sells and Gates did the damage in the second game. Sells tripled in a run and then scored, while Gates doubled and scored, and also singled home a run.
All three runs came off Oilers starter and loser Chris Kono. Cole Thompson, Mark Garcia and Kyle Ferramola each worked scoreless innings of relief.
Pyatte said the highlight of his team's trip was playing in the Midnight Sun game in Fairbanks, but he's also happy with how his team performed against the Alaska Baseball League — one of the top summer college leagues in the country.
The Merchants flew back to Washington on Tuesday night.
"We've been able to prove that not only can we play with any team up here, we can beat any team up here," he said. "We ended by taking two of three from the defending league champions."
He said he hopes the trip will be a springboard to winning the Pacific International League. Pyatte isn't sure his team has the finances to go to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan, due to the expense of traveling to Alaska.
"This trip was still worth it," Pyatte said.
The Oilers now go on their longest road trip of the season, playing their next seven games away from Seymour Park. Today, the Oilers face the Anchorage Bucs at 7 p.m. Jordan Mills gets the start for the Oilers.
OIlers 4, Merchants 2, Game 1
Acker 2b5120Ring cf5000
Ambrsn cf4020Hein lf4222
Sells 3b5001Sthly ss4001
Gates lf4110Rchrdsn dh4000
Flknga 3b5010Ymgchi 1b3000
Mullns dh5010Hnzr c3010
Mnsn rf2011Millr pr0000
Rynlds ph1000Mrtnz c0001
Potts ss3000Sanay 2b5020
Holm, p1000Koch rf1000
Bmgrtnr rf0000Ntbr rf1210
Ynss c4000Alvrz 3b4000
E — Staehely, Warner. LOB — Merchants 11, Oilers 15. 2B — Gates, Munson. 3B — Amberson. HR — Hein. SF — Staehely. SH — Heinzer. SB — Sells, Ring, Hein, Yamaguchi, Sanay.
Straka, W2 1-311003
WP — Warner. HP — Howie 2, Reppert 2, Coates. T— 3:01.
Merchants 3, Oilers 1, Game 2
Acker 2b3100Hein rf4010
Ambrsn cf2000Alvrz 2b3010
Sells 3b3111Ymgchi 3b3000
Gates lf3121Rchrdsn 1b3011
Flknga dh3000Hnzr dh2000
Munson rf3000Sthly ss3010
Parris 1b3011Ntbr lf3000
Rynlds ss3010Mrtnz c3010
Potts ss0000Millr pr0000
Santos c3010Ring cf3110
LOB — Merchants 4, Oilers 6. 2B — Gates, Ring. 3B — Sells. SB — Gates, Staehely. SH — Amberson.
PB — Martinez. T — 1:23.